Carchi Pasto

The Carchi Pasto culture was located in northern Ecuador in the province of Carchi, in the inter-Andean region between the Mira and Chota rivers. It extended as far as the Nariño Department of Colombia. Most of the population settled in the territories of Ipiales, Túquerres (Colombia) and Carchi (Ecuador).

It was characterized as being a peaceful, sedentary trading culture. The Carchi Pasto traded Spondylus mollusc shells, coca leaves, salt and jade with other coastal and Amazonian peoples. They were expert hunters of deer, which had a strong symbolic value.

This culture is renowned for its pottery and metallurgy. Many of their pieces feature “coqueros” – human figures in a sitting position with a bulge in their cheeks representing the rite of chewing coca leaves—along with interpretations of sacred animals such as jaguars and monkeys. They specialized in the negative painting technique to decorate their pottery, which was a dark red color. They also made use of positive-space painting, modelling, stone carving and gold-copper alloys. They also used Spondylus shells as beads and collars, which they obtained through trade with other regions.